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I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.



"We kind of got jerked around a bit, and I'm not happy about that"

Bill Nichols talks to EDS CEO Ron Rittenmeyer about dissatisfaction with the PGA Tour. I don't recall reading a CEO being so upset with the tour since Booz Allen's Ralph Shrader, and we know how well that worked out.

Rittenmeyer, talking about Tim Finchem:

 "Our title sponsorship comes to a close in two years, and if he wants us to continue, he's going to have to come to the table and help us," Mr. Rittenmeyer said.
Regarding the current date...
 "We kind of got jerked around a bit, and I'm not happy about that," Mr. Rittenmeyer said. "I made it kind of a personal goal of mine to see this course improve. So now we've accomplished the course. The next thing is to accomplish the right dates to field the best set of players. And the PGA Tour has got to help market this to their players."
And on the FedEx Cup... 
Mr. Rittenmeyer said the Tour's new FedEx Cup reduces the importance of regular events. The season-long format, which debuted last year, includes three playoffs for the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship. Points earned in regular events determine playoff seeding.

"I wasn't happy with the FedEx Cup, and they know that," Mr. Rittenmeyer said. "They did it to get some more excitement, some more money in the game. But we didn't get a vote, and we didn't get to discuss it."


The Boo Files: "This golf is a crazy game. That's why I only want to do it for so long and get out of it."

boo_300.jpgBoo Weekley successfully defends his Heritage Classic title, drops three aint's and two reckons, and as usual provides more transcript entertainment than the rest of the PGA Tour's finest combined.

Q. Did you ever doubt yourself today?

BOO WEEKLEY: Yes, once or twice I did. I mean, I just kind of aggravated -- like on 10, I got probably the lowest point I got all day was on 10. They just put us on the clock, you know, we're under two minutes or two hours on our time, you know, and it's kind of hard to believe they had us on the clock. The guys in front of us were playing pretty quick. It kind of got aggravating and, okay, there you go, you kind of give it away now hitting shots like that. That was my lowest point.

It was the guys in front going fast, not Boo and buds playing slow. I like that rationalization.

Q. Do you think the adrenaline and your emotional state today had anything to do with you getting the rights?

BOO WEEKLEY: No, ma'am, I had the rights all day. I had them all week with the driver and a little bit with the iron. I was standing on the tee box or on the practice round this morning and I had the pulls.

This golf is a crazy game. That's why I only want to do it for so long and get out of it (laughter).

Not yet please.

Q. Golf has always had an elitist label on it. Do you think you might be an inspiration to guys out there who talk like you and chew like you?

BOO WEEKLEY: I'm pretty sure I do. I hope it's mostly the kids. That's who you want to touch anyway is the kids. And I hope they don't chew.

SI's Gary Van Sickle filed this Boo tribute on the Press Tent blog, including this killer Boo story (along with one other, so hit the link.)

I was standing behind the 18th green at the end of Saturday's round when CBS commentator Jim Nantz climbed down from the telecast tower and ambled toward the players' scoring trailer. I talked to him for a minute but he was interested in getting some face time, he said, with Boo. They had never met, Nantz said.

When Boo signed his card and came out, Nantz was there to introduce himself and have a short, smiling conversation.

Later, after Boo finished another rollicking interview session in the press tent, I asked him about meeting Nantz. "Wail (that's southern for "Well"), he said he just wanted to put a face with a name," Boo said. "He was real nice."

"What was the conversation about?" I asked, "Did he ask any deep questions?"

Boo shook his head. "I don't even know what he does," he said.

"He's a golf commentator," I said. "I'm sure you've heard him on college basketball or football."

"Wail, either I don't watch much of that or I just don't listen," he said, non-plussed.

Lorena Does Something Tiger Will Never Do: Wins For Fourth Straight Week...

april20_ochoa_299x413.jpg...unless of course he decides to play all four playoff events this year. 

Which reminds me, I've got to go check the FedEx Cup standings.

But first, Ochoa's five of six this year and just won each of the last four weeks, taking the Ginn Open. That's insane. 

Larry Dorman reports that she is finally taking a few weeks off. 


Monty Gets Through Vows Without Backing Off Due To Camera Shutter Noise

The Telegraph's Andrew Alderson shares more details than you ever wanted to know about the big wedding day. And brace yourself, the lede is a heartstring puller.

After conceding that his obsession with golf helped to end his first marriage, Colin Montgomerie might have been expected to turn his back on the sport when he tied the knot a second time yesterday. Not a bit of it.
I tell you, what he has had to overcome!
Professional golfers invited included the Open champion Padraig Harrington, Sam Torrance and his Ryder Cup colleagues Lee Westwood and Paul Casey.
No mention of the golf writers invited? Curiously, none filed stories...
The details of the wedding and golfing activities were shrouded in secrecy, with an 800-acre, five-day "exclusion zone" around the course.

However, Prince Andrew was unable to attend - he was at the christening of his nephew, the Earl and Countess of Wessex's son, Viscount Severn, at Windsor yesterday afternoon.

Ah, the perks of royalty. 

Monty Wedding Photo Caption Fun

The happy couple...what are they thinking?



"In this new era of maudlin Masters, the players look so glum and the crowds are so quiet."

Great minds continue to think alike, though in today's installment of the what-have-they-done-to-Augusta, one is much better looking than the other. But neither is a fan of "defensive" golf.

John Huggan chimes in with this on the state of the Masters:

Where once there was excitement and drama, now there is only tedium. Where once the virtues of imagination and flair were rewarded, more prosaic and pedestrian values now prosper to a point where the end result is less interesting to watch and to play. Gone are the strategic angles once available to those good enough and inventive enough to come up with them. Instead, the tournament committee – US Open-style – apparently decides how each player should play each hole.

Given all of the above, it is no wonder that, in this new era of maudlin Masters, the players look so glum and the crowds are so quiet. There is little or nothing to get energised about. Defensive golf and damage control is boring, a fact obvious to everyone except those running the show at Augusta National.

It used to be said that the Masters didn't start until the back nine on Sunday. Nowadays it is a bonus if it gets going at all. Nowadays a leader with any kind of edge knows he can plod along, safe in the knowledge that no-one is going to embark on the sort of charge Jack Nicklaus made when he so memorably won his sixth and last green jacket in 1986.

I mean, the winner this year shot a 75 in the final round and still won by three strokes. A 75!

Meanwhile over at Yahoo, former USC golfer and current LPGA rookie Anna Rawson shares her weekly thoughts and besides being highly entertaining, she takes some time to weigh in on The Masters.

Time permits me to only watch the last nine holes, and I think I saw the worst golf of the tournament!

Actually, unless you saw the last hour Saturday, the rest was just as ugly.

Rawson also notes that "defensive golf is not my favorite to watch at all."

See how much we have in common?


"Whenever I think I feel like I need one or get tired of spitting white stuff."

Boo Weekley dropped ain't six times in his post third round press conference at Harbour Town. Thought you'd enjoy this makes-you-proud-to-be-an-American moment:

Q. Did you play the entire round chewing tobacco? How often do you do that and what does if do for you in a round of golf?

BOO WEEKLEY: I don't think chewing tobacco is the whole key, I just like to spit a lot, you know (laughter). Kind of have to have something in my mouth, I reckon, like a Jolly Rancher or something.
I didn't have it in there the whole round. I put it in a couple of holes and throw it out a couple of holes. It's just back and forth. Whenever I think I feel like I need one or get tired of spitting white stuff.

"The golf course is just set up too hard."

Thanks to reader Mark for transcribing and providing a link to Tiger Woods' radio interview with a Washington D.C. radio show to following his surgery and this year's Masters. The comments are his most revealing yet regarding the state of Augusta National.

"The golf course is just set up too hard. I've heard a lot of people say that the Masters has kind of lost its used to be on the back nine Sunday you'd hear the roars and have things's evolving into more of the US Open type fo mentality as a player. You have to grind it out, try to make more pars, then sprinkle a birdie here and there instead of being more aggressive. I think the last year where we've seen guys go low was the year [2004] we saw Phil come from behind to shoot 32 or 31 on the back nine. Other than that, the golf course has just gotten too hard."

Q: "Would you dare ever go to someone in a green jacket and say, 'You know, maybe you ought to try this--"

Tiger: "All players have, a lot of the past champions have. Augusta makes their own policies, they do what they want to do and a lot of times that's great for the game of golf and I think they might have just made the course just a little bit more difficult. I heard they're making some changes for next year so maybe that might facilitate some lower scores."



Final Masters Question: Will Growing The Game Initiatives Expose The Club To Unwanted Scrutiny?

masterslogo.gifOkay we've chewed on this rag enough, but one last topic related to the Masters worth considering: the club's global golf initiative.

Ron Sirak writes that it's "all of it is good" when talk turns to the job Billy Payne is doing.

Whether it's allowing children in for free, switching the cable coverage to ESPN or permitting TV audiences to see the Wednesday Par 3 Contest, Payne has made it clear he wants Augusta National, already a quasi-governing body of the game, to play a more active role in growing the game. Which brings us to Payne's biggest challenge: carrying out the balancing act between progress and tradition.

We saw signs last week that their desire to grow the game, while no doubt well-intentioned, may open up the club to unwanted scrutiny.

The most obvious example came during last week's press conference, where Chairman Payne was soaking up the love for letting in children of patrons free. It opened the door for a somewhat embarrassing question about the club's policy toward female members.

Now, I can sympathize with the side insisting that Augusta National is a private club and can do as they please. But if you are out touting your desire to help inspire the youth to take up golf, don't you have to set a certain example?

The same questions will apply to the golf course and tournament as well. How can you grow the game when you are giving us 5:37 threesomes and five hour twosomes on Sunday, thanks to course changes that have eliminated options and put a stranglehold on the world's best?

I suspect this is only the beginning. The harder the club pushes its global growth initiative, the tougher the questions will get about the U.S. Open style setup, the tree planting, the second cut, the pace of play, and even the idea of letting kids run around on the Par 3 course damaging greens.

But probably more alarming for members, I suspect Payne's initiative will only increase the questions about the club's finances and membership policies.

So is this growing the game initiative really "all good"?

Seems to me it's a high risk endeavor with little reward for the club.



"It was a reminder of another era at the Masters"

gwar04_080418mastersgreens.jpgAfter working my way through this week's Golfweek, Golf World and SI Golf Plus along with a few online sites, the Augusta National course change gripes just keep on coming.

First, online and the lone bit of good news for the club.

Steve Elling goes all T.J. Simers on us and answers reader email, most of it revolving around his criticism of the course changes. The club can find solace in the sprinkling of frustrated readers who like the new and improved Augusta because, Heaven Forbid, someone should shoot low scores in a major.

And mercifully, someone else agrees that the Par 3 Contest was a television nightmare. It's Dena Davis at, offering her entertaining weekly roundup of notes.

Toddlers in cute caddy outfits pal-ing around with their dads is indeed awfully precious, but THREE HOURS gets old real fast. On the other hand, imagine being a fly on the wall at the Champions dinner! It would be golf’s version of “Big Brother” for CBS. That might grow the game.The kids sure seem to be fond of that show for some reason.

In Golfweek they included Augusta National in their weekly "Up and "Down" quick hits:

Up - Augusta National as a U.S. Open venue. It's the definition of hard par, easy bogey.

Down -Augusta National as a Masters venue. Bring back the back nine birdies and eagles, and the roaring crowds.

Meanwhile, Golfweek's Scott Hamilton quoted first time Masters contestant J.B. Holmes on how the course plays for a long hitter:

"It's not made for big hitters. They've got the bunkers placed to where you can only hit it 290-300 max, and if you go much more than that it really pinches it up. I think it really favors (shorter hitters). The real long hitters, it makes them have to back off and play where everybody else is. It takes their advantage away a little bit."

In SI Golf Plus, the gang featured their weekly Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers poll. Question:

Have the Lords of Augusta taken the fun out of the Masters?


And included was this from instructor Gary Wiren: Now we have two U.S. Opens--a traveling version and one that resides in Augusta, Ga."

This week's SI "Trust Me" blurb is from Jim Gorant: "Sadly, the Masters now ends with the back nine Saturday."

In Golf World, Bill Fields penned an outstanding essay on Augusta National's greens, and noted this about the hole locations:

In each of the first three rounds last week, 10 cups were located five yards or less from the edge of a green; on Sunday eight were situated that tight. Watson thought the hole location at the par-4 third Friday was too severe, although his criticism was much milder than Nicklaus' was during the 1982 Masters. "The cup at 18 must have been cut at midnight," the Golden Bear said after five three-putts and a second-round 77. "These pin positions are asking you to make an ass of yourself."

The most shocking statement may have been from Golf World editor Geoff Russell, who reviewed the 1978 Masters rebroadcast and came to the conclusion that something is seriously wrong with the state of Augusta National's architecture and setup.

It was a reminder of another era at the Masters, before the extensive renovations to Augusta National robbed the tournament of the low-scoring fireworks -- particularly the tension-choked final rounds fraught with birdies and eagles -- that set it apart from the other major championships. If you are in the camp that hated the new Augusta National course setup before you watched Sunday's 1978 replay, reliving Player's win brought tears to your eyes. If you aren't, watching the show probably made you a convert. That's what happened to me...



"The Olympic competition would be four days of individual stroke play for men and women."

In the April 18 Golf World, Ron Sirak opens The Bunker with an item atttempting to figure out why there is this sudden love for golf in the Olympics, a movement that finally received an official endorsement from Tim Finchem this week.

Sirak's piece sounds very similar to something we would have read a few years ago when the last Olympic golf push last died. There's the USGA's David Fay and R&A's Peter Dawson pushing hard in the name of growing the game. Besides the obvious hypocrisy of pushing for growth as they have defended "progress" in distance advances that bloated the game, the "International Golf Federation" predictably came up with a format that will do absolutely nothing to demonstrate the potential thrills and passion that we see in Ryder Cup golf.

Sirak writes, "The Olympic competition would be four days of individual stroke play for men and women."

Couple that with the possibility that the Olympics could go to Chicago in 2016 where the least interesting course possible will be selected (Kemper wait, Olympia Fields!), and it's hard to see how this would grow the game.


Thinking Of The Grandchildren: Jack Calls On Chinese Government To Invest In Golf

Because after all, they have the whole human rights thing all cleaned up! From John Ruwitch of Reuters:

"The government needs to be involved," Nicklaus said in an interview with journalists.

"The government subsidises track and field ... the government subsidises all those sports in this country," he said. "There's no reason why they shouldn't be" subsidising golf.

And who should they have design their courses? I think I know who Jack has in mind. 


"We've been approached by several groups, let's put it that way."

Confirming what has been long rumored, Mark Herrman reports that Sebonack is in the running for a significant tournament.

"We've been approached by several groups, let's put it that way. But there's nothing definite yet," said Michael Pascucci, the club developer and owner, who went to high school with Jim Brown at Manhasset and is chairman of Channel 55.

Mike Davis, the senior director of rules and competitions for United States Golf Association, said Pascucci called even before the course opened in 2006 and that the two have met at the site. "Nothing really is set," Davis said. "I'd say right now we're really in the investigative phase." He did add that the whole golf landscape in that part of Southampton "is kind of a magical place."

Well, except in the middle of the night!

I smell a U.S. Women's Open. 


"The cost of playing has come down in recent years to the point where average greens fees for nine holes is $12."

From Leonard Shapiro in the Washington Post:

The most astounding statistic of the first National Golf Day came from Joe Steranka, executive director of the PGA of America. He said that because of the increase in the number of daily fee facilities in the United States, the cost of playing has come down in recent years to the point where average greens fees for nine holes is $12.

Perhaps someone forgot to study public courses in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

Or the other 48 states. 


Royal Sydney Confirmed For Australian Open...

1207623886615_4abcb.jpg...Peter Stone reports in The Age, along with other news surrounding the December event and confirmed entrants. Hope we can get this on The Golf Channel.

You can read about the course's unique history here


Comcast Exec Admits Golf Channel Needs Work

In discusing the hiring of consultant Mike Weisman, Comcast exec Jeff Shell talks to the New York Times' Richard Sandomir about Versus and Golf Channel.

Look at Weisman nailing three MBA buzzwords in the first quote while weaving it into a beautiful metaphor. Or is that a simile?

“This is an opportunity to leave some footprints in the sand and build brands and networks,” Weisman said.
According to Comcast's Shell, the Golf Channel's presentation needs Weisman's touch. 
“We don’t have someone responsible for everything that goes on over the air,” Shell said. “If you look at what goes on over the air, it’s respectable, but not memorable. We want it to be memorable.
 The Golf Channel has a studio program, “Golf Central.” “It’s good, but not good enough,” Shell said.

That's what happens when you pay people next to nothing.

One issue that Shell said was being worked on was occasionally leaving an early round of a PGA Tour event before it had ended to go to the studio. “It’s a contractual obligation and reasonably easy to fix,” he said.

Really? Somehow I think if it were an easy fix it would have been addressed already. 


"Augusta National had suddenly become Dodger Stadium."

Add SI's Alan Shipnuck to the list suggesting the changes at Augusta National have impacted the aura of the Masters:

"Interesting" is a generous way to describe Sunday's action, as for the second straight year the Masters devolved into a U.S. Open-style war of attrition, and this edition was especially lacking in drama.

Augusta's normally die-hard fans didn't even pretend to be enjoying the spectacle. When the leaders' scores were posted for the 13th hole — showing Immelman's birdie that pushed his lead back to four — the massive bleachers around the 15th and 16th holes began clearing. Augusta National had suddenly become Dodger Stadium.

In only his second year Augusta National chairman Billy Payne has proven himself to be a forward thinker, but he may need to consider revisiting the course's old setups, which almost every year produced memorable Sunday pyrotechnics.

Augusta National has grown brutally long and increasingly narrow, and it still boasts the most frightening greens in championship golf. Unless Payne chops down a bunch of trees and shaves away the second cut, the course will continue to humiliate the game's best players, especially on days when the weather is less than perfect.



Fourth Masters Question: When Can We Assess Augusta National's Renovation?

masterslogo.gifCountering the claims that Augusta National has been altered beyond repair are several pointing to the wind as the sole source of Sunday's dull Masters affair.

Now, I seem to recall that since 2000 or so we've had to wait several years to judge the tree planting, rough and lengthening because the course was usually too wet to evaluate the impact. Then last year it was finally firm and fast but the spin said it was too cold to make a call.

This year we saw ideal weather for the first two days and pretty scoring conditions for the first three days (yet was there ever a sense anyone could get hot and post a 65?).  The tough winds on Sunday made the course incredibly difficult, and therefore, we apparently still can't evaluate the state of ANGC.

Now, that assumes that the course can only be setup to be interesting and exciting on Sunday. A most contrived approach. However, let's not debate that and instead consider a few more reviews of Sunday's round.

David Feherty has no choice but to do some serious brown-nosing when it comes to the club, so here's what he says about Sunday's dull affair:

— We saw the perfect storm of conditions at Augusta on Sunday. The course couldn't have played harder, with the speed of the greens, the softness of the fairways and the howling wind. It's too bad the gusts were so great. A calmer day could have produced some back-nine fireworks. But the wind took an already difficult course right to the edge.
Again, wasn't it pretty calm the first three days and pretty clear that a birdie run was out of the question?

His counterpart Alan Shipnuck Jim Gorant was less forgiving
A phrase that had come to symbolize anything-can-happen excitement could now be sponsored by Sominex. Sunday's climax was all denouement.

Meanwhile over at they did their "Fact of Fiction" deal, asking if ANGC should be set up to encourage low numbers...assuming that's even possible.

Bob Harig, who reviewed the recent changes and the disappearance of a sense of vulnerability in a Monday column, says that "for the second straight year, the weekend was a survival contest, rather than the drama-filled back nine Masters fans have come to expect."

Jason Sobel, who apparently didn't notice the weather the first two days, asks "what would happen on a perfectly calm, 80-degree day?"

While Ron Sirak laments

There are no more 30s to be shot on the back nine of Augusta National Golf Club. It's way too long and difficult now. I miss the roars triggered by eagles echoing through the Georgia pines. Now, you are more likely to hear groans triggered by double bogeys. I miss seeing a player in contention pondering over whether to go for the green in two on that pair of great par-5 holes , No. 13 and No. 15. It makes me sad to see players opting for an automatic lay-up on those holes.

So here's the fourth Masters question: is there something wrong with a design when it can only resemble its former self under a very select set of idea weather conditions?

To put it another way, is it simply not possible for an architect and committee to consider these weather extremes by offering alternate tee locations and enough width to maintain its integrity in unusual conditions?

How are those for two rhetorical questions?


"It would probably be a limited-field event, like a WGC or something like that"

Steve Elling shares a prime example of why when European Tour Commish George O'Grady enters a room, scribblers sprint knowing he'll say something stupid newsworthy.
The European Tour hosted a banquet during Masters week and a couple of scribes corralled Commissioner George O'Grady early to ask a couple of questions about the drug testing rollout planned for this summer. As he has said in the past, the Euro plan won't be nearly as comprehensive as the PGA Tour program, which will cost over $1 million to administer.

"We simply don't have as much money," he said.

O'Grady said, in broad brush strokes, that he hopes to perhaps test the winners and a few more players in the field each week, and hopes to have tested every fulltime player at some point by the end of the year. Then he dropped a little bombshell of sorts. O'Grady said that PGA Tour counterpart Tim Finchem intends to test an entire field at some point, which could be prohibitively expensive, it was pointed out.

"It would probably be a limited-field event, like a WGC or something like that," he said.
So much for randomly testing and keeping the process pure!

"He only plays about 15 times a year anyway"

A wire story on surprise and shock at news of Tiger's knee surgery includes this comment from Tim Clark:

"He only plays about 15 times a year anyway," Tim Clark said. "So it's not going to do a lot" to affect the PGA Tour.

Last year Woods played in 16 official events, meaning that if he misses the Wachovia and Players, he's likely going to have to add one event this year to maintain full membership privileges.

Four playoff events this time, perhaps?

Steve Eubanks posts a Yahoo piece on the prospects for Tiger's recovery as well as what he might face in the future.